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High end USB cable anyone?


Buddy Shagmore
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After reading some of Steve Huff's reviews (he loves Klipsch Heritage) and looking at his gear list, I now have a concern about my own system. I am still using the free junky USB cable from my laptop to my DAC. Everything else in my setup is high quality, including a good power conditioner.  Anyone here a Believer in high end USB cables?  Like the Audioquest Diamond?

AQ_Diamond_USB_termination_detail2_1.jpg

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Engineers laugh over this stuff. 

 

HDMI cables require thicker cables as the amount of information transferred increases.  Higher resolution needs thicker wire because so much is being transferred nowadays. 

 

If you are just transferring sound over a UBS, any decent cable should work.  If you prefer a $700 cable because it is a small portion of the total costs, enjoy...

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22 hours ago, Shakeydeal said:

Cables do make a difference. That said, your biggest improvement would come from ditching the computer in favor of a dedicated streamer.

Even that's debatable.  Currently, I'm running a Linux with Music Player Daemon (mpd).  The Linux kernel is tweaked for optimized audio (I didn't do the tweaking - there are purpose-build flavors of Linux out there that pre-package tweaked kernels).  The laptop mpd is running on is a old Core 2 Duo with 8 gig of ram that was otherwise sitting unused on a shelf in the basement collecting dust. 

 

I do beleive in good cables but not the crazy expensive stuff.  I think I paid about $80 for a 2 meter USB cable. 

 

Anyway, my cheapo laptop running MPD replaced a Bluesound Node 2i because, at least to these ears, the laptop setup was a sonic step up.  I think my total investment in the whole shebang was the cost of the USB cable.   The laptop came out of retirement, but I guess a laptop like that could be found on Craigslist for about $50 or so.  

 

As with all things audio, your mileage may vary....

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3 hours ago, whell said:

The Linux kernel is tweaked for optimized audio (I didn't do the tweaking - there are purpose-build flavors of Linux out there that pre-package tweaked kernels).

Many regular linux distros are fine OOTB.

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On 12/1/2022 at 2:34 PM, Shakeydeal said:

Cables do make a difference. That said, your biggest improvement would come from ditching the computer in favor of a dedicated streamer.

Not so sure that isn't just speculation. My laptop functions solely as a dedicated streamer. It sits on the top shelf of my component rack and has no other function. It never moves and I don't have any other apps on it.  It just streams Tidal. Isn't a component style streamer just a crude computer? What additional digital information does a streamer send to my DAC that my laptop doesn't?

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1 hour ago, Buddy Shagmore said:

Not so sure that isn't just speculation. My laptop functions solely as a dedicated streamer. It sits on the top shelf of my component rack and has no other function. It never moves and I don't have any other apps on it.  It just streams Tidal. Isn't a component style streamer just a crude computer? What additional digital information does a streamer send to my DAC that my laptop doesn't?


You would have to try for yourself. I used to do the same as you, streamed from a dedicated laptop using Jriver and thought it sounded pretty good. But even a lowly Pi player was able to beat it. A lower noise floor is one thing you’ll most likely hear. And more resolution. At least that was my take.

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Any shielded USB cable is all you need.

USB is a real protocol with CRC/ARQ;  translation error detection and correction.

Maybe $20 tops.

The rest of the cables should also be shielded

and it's a good practice to not run you data cables over the power cable.

In my racks, I run power down the right side and data down the left side.

 

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On 12/1/2022 at 2:19 PM, Buddy Shagmore said:

USB cable from my laptop to my DAC.

 

The data device is two comms interfaces with a buffer in the middle and a user interface.

The Laptop may be the best device for this application and it has a great user interface.

I added Flash to replace the Hard drive when it died and rammed the CPU memory up to 8GB

 

Some of the streamers have a Digital Signal Processor built in

allowing you to EQ the room and some other tricks like an AV receiver.

I just purchased a used Berringer 8024 EQ to see if it outperforms my other digital EQs.

The Berringer has the Mic Interface and can learn the room and auto EQ the music.

 

A lot of people like this product, but it has a learning curve.

image.thumb.png.6aa432576ded500cb77364018f504a8b.png

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Appreciate all the comments. I was feeling like a slacker with the junky free USB cable I had in my otherwise quality hi-fi system. So I got the Diamond...listening now...subtle improvement...nothing like night vs day lol. It might be overkill but my Chorus IIs and I are bonding with the new cable. 😃I am fine with my laptop streaming at this time...maybe later I will "upgrade". 

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So after checking streamers out (on youtube) for a few days, I am going to take y'all's advice and try a dedicated streamer. The ifi Zen Stream at $399 fits my budget and has good reviews. My question is: can I still use my laptop to navigate thru Tidal, and feed that into the Zen, since it has USB in and out? Or forget that idea and use my cellphone? It seems using the big screen in my laptop would be a lot easier navigating thru Tidal than scrolling thru the tiny cell screen. Thanks guys!

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6 minutes ago, Buddy Shagmore said:

So after checking streamers out (on youtube) for a few days, I am going to take y'all's advice and try a dedicated streamer. The ifi Zen streamer at $399 fits my budget and has good reviews. My question is: can I still use my laptop to navigate thru Tidal, and feed that into the Zen, since it has USB in and out? Or forget that idea and use my cellphone? It seems the big screen in my laptop would be a lot easier than scrolling thru the tiny cell screen. Thanks guys!

 

There are a lot of ways to stream to the ZEN -- it can support you connecting via USB but the device is much more capable than just that.

 

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